My father’s hands were strong and silent
capable, restless, methodical, worn.
Missing the tip of a digit or two;
able to mend shoes, carve the weekend roast,
mow lawns, grow vegetables
give out hymn books, shake hands after church,
make piles of the collection-plate coins
lay carpet, fix the car, drive to music lessons
make a new key to wind up my toy train.
His hands could claim me if the surf were too wild;
were strong to carry this broken-legged child
put metho on mozzie bites, dab soap on my nose
clap hands for the babies, and cheer when they smiled.
In this noisy shouting world with strident voices cluttered
hear the quiet words of love my father’s hands have uttered.
© Julie Thorndyke